Tag Archives: OddBox

47 Incredible Colorized Photos of Russian Beauties From the Early 20th Century

Grin – only Euro-Russians in Russia or Russian Empire of old? These amazing photos which were colorized by Olga are portraits of Russian beauties from the 1900 and 1910s.

Mathilde Kschessinskaya, circa 1900s

A fashionable lady from Kashin (Tver region, Russia), circa 1900s

Agrippina Vaganova, circa 1900s

Alexander Institute for Noble Maidens, St. Petersburg, circa 1900s

Alexander Institute for Noble Maidens, St. Petersburg, circa 1900s

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Guest Voces: Puerto Rico and the Apathy of the Federal Government

By Rafael Medina and Enrique Fernández-Toledo

Six months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the federal government’s response has been inexcusably slow, its spending wasteful, and its aid inadequate.

On January 31 of this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it would stop distributing essential food and water aid in Puerto Rico, reversing its decision only after widespread backlash. Only six days later, FEMA was awarded a $156 million contract that called for the distribution of 30 million meals to Puerto Rico, but delivered just 50,000.

As a result, the Puerto Rican exodus after Hurricane Maria is growing daily because too many are still struggling to survive without power, a roof over their heads, or potable water as they continue to await FEMA aid.

The federal government has botched the relief efforts in Puerto Rico at every stage since the storm made landfall, and its mismanagement of contractors delivering disaster relief is costing lives. Its ineptitude has left approximately one-quarter of Puerto Rico’s residents without electricity, and 1-in-10 are predicted to stay in the dark through the end of March. Nearly twenty percentof the island’s businesses remain closed and the unofficial death count stands at over 1,000.

There is no excuse for the Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to withhold federal assistance to state and local governments as they continue to take in a massive influx of displaced Puerto Ricans who are still stranded in temporary housing across the country.

Hurricane evacuees of Puerto Rico are now living in fear of losing their housing a second time, when they should be receiving assurances from our government. Instead, FEMA has begun cutting off housing benefits for many Puerto Ricans who have nowhere else to go. To make up for the loss of these benefits, FEMA has deemed homes without a roof, secure door or windows, or even clean water to be “habitable.”

What’s more, FEMA decided in January to stop shipping the most basic supplies–food and water–to Puerto Rico after “mistakenly” announcing it would stop distribution altogether. And it opted to not award contracts to experienced professionals who know how to deal with natural disasters. Puerto Rico cannot afford to have another inexperienced and poorly rated contractor that fails to deliver adequate assistance.

FEMA’s fumbled response has resulted in three-times the calls to suicide lines, as the island confronts trauma and a public health crisis on top of the ongoing humanitarian crisis left in the Maria’s wake. The situation looks bleaker in rural areas where many have been left to fend for themselves, waiting for aid that has yet to reach them.

With the next hurricane season just around the corner, it’s crucial that the federal government increase their urgency in Puerto Rico. FEMA must be held accountable and start tracking its progress in Puerto Rico by providing the public with honest metrics about where recovery efforts presently stand. Congress must hold the agency accountable for its flagrant mistakes.

Congress must also provide more resources and aid to the island as they work to rebuild it. Although we are grateful Congress for the aid Congress has already offered the island, it still falls short of the estimated $95 billion it will take to rebuild, and the additional funding needed to make sure evacuees have the continued support they need upon return. It is further crucial that there is adequate oversight of these measures to ensure that relief is administered swiftly and competently.

President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must also fulfill their responsibility to oversee FEMA and ensure the adequate distribution of disaster aid. We must not forget that the Administration is ultimately accountable for FEMA’s failures.

Puerto Rico deserves better and we all know it. That’s why the Center for American Progress recently launched the Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy Initiative, and that’s why today, scores of Americans are meeting outside of FEMA’s headquarters to demand that the agency get its act together and start providing the essential resources and aid that Puerto Rico desperately needs to not only get back on its feet, but to ensure that homes are restored, businesses reopened, and infrastructure fortified.

American citizens of Puerto Rico shouldn’t have to settle for less.

(Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared in El Nuevo Herald)

Featured Photo: A downed tree beside a home in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Photo by Carlos Jimenez.

Enrique Fernández-Toledo is the Director, Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Rafael Medina is the Ethnic Media Associate at the Center.

It’s official: Democrat Conor Lamb wins Pennsylvania special election in major upset

It’s official: Democrat Conor Lamb wins Pennsylvania special election in major upset:



In a stunning upset, Democrat Conor Lamb won an incredibly close special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, beating out Republican candidate Rick Saccone in a deeply conservative district the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated R+11.

The race stretched into Wednesday midday, when CNN reported Lamb was in the lead with 627 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. State law does not mandate a recount in district-level elections.

Conventional wisdom suggested that Saccone — a candidate who once declared himself “Trump before Trump was Trump” — would do well in a district that turned out in droves for President Donald Trump in 2016. But in recent weeks, Republicans were in full panic mode, dumping more than $9 million into the race. Lamb’s victory shows they were right to be so worried.

And it wasn’t just Republicans who feared losing this district — it was Trump himself.

In many ways, PA-18 was emblematic of Trump’s presidential success story; the president carried the district by 20 points in 2016, along with much of the rest of western Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was one of the blue-collar Rust Belt states he was never supposed to win but won anyway, in a stunning rebuke to Hillary Clinton.

Along with Wisconsin and Michigan, the Keystone State carried Trump to victory on Election Day 2016. It’s a story he often recounts at rallies, including the one he held for Saccone in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.

Voting for Saccone is exactly what the president wanted his supporters to do. Trump cared enough about Saccone winning that he joined him on the campaign trail multiple times and sent Vice President Mike Pence and members of his family, including son Donald Trump Jr. and daughter Ivanka Trump, to stump.

He even pushed a controversial announcement on steel and aluminum import tariffs so it would land a week before the special election.

None of it worked.

Trump voters ended up either staying home or proving they could just as easily cast their votes for a Democrat with the right message, especially when Trump wasn’t the candidate on the ballot.

Conor Lamb won a district Democrats weren’t supposed to be competitive in

On its face, Tuesday’s special congressional election in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania was supposed to be a breeze for the GOP. The Cook Political Report rated the district R+11, due in part to partisan gerrymandering that the state Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional.

Political analysts in the state agreed that the district’s gerrymandering was part of the reason it was supposed to be impossible for Democrats to win. This is a seat that used to be so solidly Republican that Democrats didn’t even bother competing in it.

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For the record, there are 119 GOP held districts that are LESS RED THAN THIS DISTRICT.

Keep this up, keep voting, and canvassing in every district and every race, hold them accountable for their traitorous and inhumane actions.

For the first time, we have a Democratic challenger in every single district, even the deepest red ones.

Lebanese Novelist Emily Nasrallah, 86

The quiet, firm Lebanese feminist author and activist Emily Nasrallah (1931-2018) — celebrated for her debut novel Birds of September — has died. A funeral is set for today in Zahle:

Born in the summer of 1931, Emily Nasrallah grew up in Al Kfeir, a village in southern Lebanon, before moving to Beirut to study and work as a journalist and teacher. Her debut novel, Birds of Septembercame out in 1962 and was later listed as one of the Arab Writers Union’s 105 best books of the twentieth century. It has been translated into German as Septembervogel by Veronika Theis, but not into English.

Journalist, translator, and author Olivia Snaije, in her brief tribute Wednesday, wrote that Nasrallah was “one of the first to write short stories, to write both about her village in the south and Beirut, during the civil war” and was “a real feminist, gracious, quiet, firm.”

Nasrallah’s other widely known work is Yawmiyyat Hirr (1997), a book for children that was translated into English as What Happened to Zeeko (2001), as well as into Thai, Dutch, and German. It describes everyday life during Civil War-era Beirut from the perspective of a tomcat.

Two other books by Nasrallah have translated to English. The first by Issa Boullata, as  Flight Against Time, and the second a collection of short stories, House Not Her Own, translated by Thuraya Khalil-Khouri.

Last August, Nasrallah received a Goethe medal for her work, alongside Indian publisher Urvashi Butalia and Russian human-rights activist Irina Shcherbakova. At the time of the award, journalist Emily Dische-Becker said of Nasrallah’s writing:

The uprooting, through voluntary or involuntary departure, is a consistent theme throughout Nasrallah’s work. The anguish of those left behind, the alienation of the departed in their new surroundings and the ultimate impossibility of return. Displacement is an essential part of the Lebanese collective experience and it is relevant as ever, in light of the mass displacement from neighboring Syria today. It takes courage to write about home, as Emily Nasrallah does, with both affection and honesty, to weave the intimate particularities of customs, the disappointments and sacrifices of its women into stories that may fail to pass state censors but resonate with generations of readers.

Her passing was marked by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri:

بغياب الاديبة اميلي نصرالله يخسر #لبنان والعرب اليوم شعلة من رموز #الادب والابداع اللبناني ومناضلة لحقوق المرأة شكلت قيمة فكرية مضافة لوطننا وعالمنا #العربي.

— Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) March 14, 2018


The author’s official website: www.emilynasrallah.com

Emily Nasrallah: The “peasant woman” who wrote about her land and won the heart of the world

On Mahmoud Darwish’s Birthday, 13 Poems

The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (d. 2008) was born in al-Birwa on this day in 1941. To commemorate his entrance into our world on March 13, ArabLit has 13 poems (and poemish texts):

1) “The Moon Did Not Fall Into the Well,” from Journal of an Ordinary Grieftr. Ibrahim Muhawi

Muhawi’s translations have a wonderful sense of the rhythm of the original, and this particular text is narrative, open-hearted, and with deeply etched characters. It opens:

—What are you doing, father?

—I’m searching for my heart, which fell away that night.

—Do you think you’ll find it here?

—Where else am I going to nd it? I bend to the ground and pick it up piece by piece just as the women of the fellahin pick up olives in October, one olive at a time.

—But you’re picking up pebbles!

—Doing that is a good exercise for memory and perception. Who knows? Maybe these pebbles are petrified pieces of my heart.

2) “Love, like meaning,” from In the Presence of Absencetr. Sinan Antoon.

Perhaps the greatest of Darwish’s works, this version brought Antoon the 2012 National Translation Award:

Love, like meaning, is out on the open road, but like poetry, it is difficult. It requires talent, endurance, and skillful formulation, because of its many stations. It is not enough to love, for that is one of nature’s magical acts, like rainfall and thunder. It takes you out of yourself into the other’s orbit and then you have to fend for yourself. It is not enough to love, you have to know how to love. Do you know how?

3) The Dice Player,” from If I Were Anothertr. Fady Joudah

The charming “The Dice Player” with a visual adaptation:

4) “The Horse Fell off the Poem,” from The Butterfly’s Burdentr. Fady Joudah

There is no margin in modern language left
to celebrate what we love,
because all that will be … was

5) “The Second Olive Tree,” tr. Marilyn Hacker

And with horses, olive trees:

The olive tree does not weep and does not laugh. The olive tree

Is the hillside’s modest lady. Shadow

Covers her one leg, and she will not take her leaves off in front of the storm.

Standing, she is seated, and seated, standing.

6) “Nothing But Iraq,” tr. Shareah Taleghani

A cry to Badr Shakir al-Sayyab:

I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain:

Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq.

And nothing but an echo replies

I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space

A woman triumphed over the sterility of mist

She bequeathed to us earth and exile . . .

For poetry is born in Iraq,

So be Iraqi to become a poet, my friend.

7) “And where is my will?” from Memory for Forgetfulnesstr. Ibrahim Muhawi

And where is my will?

It stopped over there, on the other side of the collective voice. But now, I want nothing more than the aroma of coffee. Now I feel shame. I feel shamed by my fear, and by those defending the scent of the distant homeland–that fragrance they’ve never smelled because they weren’t born on her soil. She bore them, but they were born away from her. Yet they studied her constantly, without fatigue or boredom; and from overpowering memory and constant pursuit, they learned what it means to belong to her.

“You’re aliens here,” they say to them there.

“You’re aliens here,” they say to them here.

8) “Diary,” tr. Tania Tamari Nasir and John Berger.

If you were told: you’re going to die here this evening What would you do in the remaining time? Look at my watch Drink a glass of juice Munch an apple Watch an ant who has found what to eat Then look at my watch There’s still time to shave have a bath I say to myself: One needs one’s finery when about to write So I’ll wear the blue shirt I sit til noon alive at my desk I do not see the effect of color on words Whiteness whiteness whiteness I prepare my last lunch I pour out wine into two glasses For me and for the one who will come Unannounced Then I take a siesta in between two dreams

9) “The Tragedy of Narcissus,” from If I Were Anothertr. Fady Joudah:

10) “A Noun Sentence,” The Butterfly’s Burdentr. Fady Joudah

A noun sentence, no verb

to it or in it: to the sea the scent of the bed

after making love … a salty perfume

or a sour one. A noun sentence: my wounded joy

like the sunset at your strange windows.

11) “If I Were a Hunter,” tr. Shakir Mustafa

If a hunter I were

I’d give the gazelle

a chance, and another,

and a third, and a tenth,

to doze a little. My share

of the booty would be

peace of mind under

her dozing head.

12) “Mural,” translated by John Berger and, Rema Hammami

My nurse says: you are better now

and injects me with a tranquillizer:

Be calm

and worthy of what you’re about to dream

even a little…

13) “ID Card,” tr. Salman Masalha and Vivian Eden

This would not likely be a poem Darwish would choose among only 13 of his works. But it is one that, although written in his early days, in 1964, continues to have great political resonance:

Write it down! Im an Arab

My card number is 50000

My children number eight

And after this summer, a ninth on his way.

Does this make you rage?

I am an Arab.

8 Short Stories by Arab Women for International Women’s Day

Your gift for International Women’s Day is eight great short stories by Arab women, in translation, available free online:

By artist Helen Zughaib, in an exhibition “Arab Spring/Unfinished Journeys: Humanizing Politics Through Art.” A detail image of her piece Generations Lost, 2014. Photographer: Stephanie Mitchell.

Many short stories I’ve recently enjoyed — Hanan al-Shaykh’s “The Angel” in Arab Women Voice New Realities; Najwa Binshatwan’s “Return Ticket,” tr. Sawad Hussain, in Banthology — have been written by women. Yet relatively few are available online. A translation of Samira Azzam’s “Man and His Alarm Clock” has been paywalled for $42.50.

Here is a handful of pearls, stitched to a branch:

1. “Pearls on a Branch,” from the collection of folktales Pearls on a Branch, ed. Najlaa Khoury, tr. Inea Bushnaq.

This gorgeous, subversive, beautifully translated collection — subtitled “Tales from the Arab World Told by Women” — is a must-have for all ages. This story, published on Tin Houseopens:

There was or there was not
In olden days that time has lost…
O you who like stories and talk
No story can be pleasing and beautiful,
Without invoking the Almighty, the Merciful.

THERE WAS A KING – there is no sovereign but God – and this king had a daughter. She was his only child and he liked to please her. So when the month for the pilgrimage to Mecca drew near, the king asked his daughter:

Tell me what do you want me to bring you from the Hajj?

2. Rachida el-Charni, “The Way to Poppy Street,” tr Piers Amodia.

This story — by Tunisian writer Rachida el-Charni — was also selected for the Granta Book of the African Short Story, ed. Helon Habila.

She saw him coming towards her, whistling and humming. He stopped in front of her to ask politely if she knew the way to Poppy Street. Not for a moment did she imagine that he would use the second she took to think to snatch her gold necklace and take to his heels.

3. Lena Merhej, “I Think We Will Be Calmer in the Next War,” tr. Merhej.

This story, by talented Lebanese artist, cartoonist, and graphic novelist Lena Merhej, opens:

You can read both the Arabic and the English of these graphic short stories — or comix — at grandpapier.org.

4. Malika Moustadraf’s “Just Different,” tr. Alice Guthrie. 

This story, by the maverick Moroccan short-story writer Malika Moustadraf (1962-2006), opens:

Avenue Mohammed V is silent and desolate this late at night, empty apart from a few stray cats meowing like newborn babies; it’s a creepy sound.

5. Basma al-Nsour’s “Disappointments (and a Few Clarifications),”tr. Andrew Leber

This story, by acclaimed Jordanian short-story writer and attorney Basma al-Nsour, opens:

My life would have been a lot easier if only my grandmother had not been a liar. Or, to put it more nicely, if she hadn’t been so imaginative on that winter night when she convinced me that she would never leave me.

You can also read al-Nsour’s “That Pathetic Woman,” tr. Thoraya El-Rayyes, on ArabLit.

6. Adania Shibli’s “Out of Time,” translator not named.

This story, by Palestinian writer Adania Shibli, is built on the work of classic Palestinian short-story writer Samira Azzam, best-known for her collection, The Clock and the Man. Unfortunately a translation of Azzam’s “Man and His Alarm Clock” is no longer online.

My little watch is the first to sense the change going in to and out of Palestine.

7. Rasha Abbas, “The Gist of It,” tr. Alice Guthrie

There are also a number of other Rasha Abbas stories online, such as “Statement of Absolute Hatred,” “Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette,” and “Statement of Absolute Hatred,” all tr. Guthrie.

8. “The Sea Cloak,” by Nayrouz Qarmout, tr. Charis Bredon

A collection for Qarmout’s stories, titled The Sea Cloak and tr. Perween Richards, is forthcoming from Comma Press this May. The story isn’t printed online, but you can listen to it performed by Grazyna Monvid:

لا للتقاعد التعسفي للمعلمين

لا للتقاعد التعسفي للمعلمين


نستقبل آذار استقبالنا البهيج بانتهاء فصل الشتاء. يوم المرأة ويوم الأم ويوم الأرض، وهناك يوم للمعلم في بعض الدول .

في فلسطين تغلبت وزارتنا على الجميع وأحالت معلما في سن الثلاثين للتقاعد المبكر. هل يعتبر الأمر سابقة، أم مجرد إجراء تعسفي طبيعي في ظل فساد حكم مستفحل في كل مكان؟

وقبل تناول الموضوع أكثر، يجب التوقف عند سبب إحالة المعلم الشاب الى التقاعد . السبب موقفه من الاحتجاجات التي قادها المعلمون قبل سنتين. أي ان ما جرى كان اجراء انتقاميا ضد المعلم كان قد بيت من قبل صانع القرار في الوزارةمنذ سنتين.

هل لنا ان نتخيل ماذا يعني هذا الاجراء؟

أي نوع من القمع يتم ممارسته من اجل المطالبة في حقوق تعتبر مبدئية لمعلمي المدارس؟

نحن نتكلم هنا عن المعلمين. بناة المستقبل، ناقلي التعليم وحاملي شعلة الامل لأبنائنا.

كيف نروج لنظام تعليم غير تقليدي، منفتح، ريادي، قيادي، والمعلم هذا يعرف انه عندما عبر عن نفسه قضي على مستقبله؟

لا أعرف ما الذي يجب ان نسكت عنه او نحارب من اجله في ظل هذه التراكمات من الانتهاكات الانسانية.

لماذا تصبح مرة اخرى الطامة أكبر عندما نرى تجاوزات وانتهاكات وزارة التربية والتعليم؟

بكل بساطة ، لأنه المكان الذي نعد للمستقبل من خلاله … أهذا هو مستقبل الاجيال؟ حاضر مبني على القمع والعقاب عند التعبير عن الحق؟

المشكلة لا تنتهي عند وزارة التربية والتعليم ، التي تحولت ممارساتها الى إجراءات عجيبة منذ عرض “انجاز” الى نوع المسابقات التي تبدأ باسم الوزير رتنتهي بصورته على العملة النقدية.

المشلة في تعاطينا لهكذا ممارسات انتهاكية والتعامل معها على انها خاصة لمكان بعينه أو شخص بذاته .

ضحية اليوم من ممارسات القمع والترهيب كان معلما. ولكن هذا لا يعني ان ما جرى لهذا المعلم يؤثر علينا كمجتمع من كل الاتجاهات . لا استطيع الا ان اتساءل ، اذا ما كانت نتيجة وقوف معلم بالاضرابات قد أدى الى فصله او احالته الى التقاعد المبكر. تخيلوا ان هذا الشاب يتقاعد في هذا العمر؟ كم من المعلمين بانتظار إحالتهم الى الاستقالة او التقاعد ؟ ما الذي نتوقعه من الدوائر التعليمية > من المعلمين الاخرين ، من الطلاب ، من الاهل ؟

في بلاد العالم الطبيعي ، أعرف مبدئيا ، انه لن تكون هكذا حوادث لأنه من المستحيل التفكير زن هناك وزارة تقوم بهكذا فعل لمدرس ، ولكن ، هذا لا يأتي فقط لأن النقابات فاعلة. لا اعرف ما الذي يقال في هذه الاثناء عن نقاباتنا المختلفة . اين دور النقابة ؟ حالة تطويع النقابات ليس ايضا فرضيا او غريبا ، لأن المشكلة ليست مصادفة. فحالة التطويع هذه تبدو جماعية. لقد تحولنا الى مجتمع متكامل في حالة تقويضه وتطويعه.

غدا يصادف يوم المرأة … كم حالة تشبه حالة قمع هذا المعلم الشاب عند النساء؟ من الواجب ان تكرس النساء يومها غدا من اجل قضية معلم المدرسة. لأن الموضوع لم يعد يقتصر على تمييز وتنكيل بجنس محدد . ولكن التنكيل صار مؤسساتيا يطال كل من يخالف رغبات الامر او صاحب السلطة.

قضيانا تتضاعف وتتشابك ، ولا زلنا نردد نفس الشعارات والمطالبات من اجل قضية على حساب اي قضية اخرى . فتحولت قضاياتا الى ايام احتفال ، نقف فيها على المنصات ونندد ونطالب ونتذمر.

يجب ان يكون يوم المرأة هذا العام يوم نصرة للمعلمين المهددين بانهاء مسيراتهم التعليمية قبل ان تبدأ بالتشكل. يوم المرأة هذا العام ، يجب ان تكون صرخاته ونداءاته ضد الاضطهاد والقمع الممنهج من قبل السلطات المختلفة ، وفي هذه الحالة وزارة التربية والتعليم ، التي تكسر كل قواعد الريادة في كل مرة ، وتؤكد ان التعليم اذا ما استمر في هكذا مسار كمؤسسة ، فلا عتب على الاجيال القادمة .